January 2020: A Young Woman with Heart and Tenacity

tags: Center for Developmental Behavioral Health

Dr. Bradley Grant: Hi, I’d like to talk today about Abigail. She was a teenager that I met several years ago and had a very challenging beginning to her life. Abigail was born with left hypoplastic heart syndrome, which required multiple open heart surgeries to stabilize. The family brought her to Kennedy Krieger when she was just 18 months old. She received intensive therapy from the feeding program at Kennedy Krieger, with speech and language, occupational therapy, nutrition, pediatrics and with all those things together, she made incredible progress to the point that she reached her goals by age 5.

Two women with their backs to the camera look out over a mountain

But then around age 14, she had recurring chronic pain and fatigue. She was experiencing depression and anxiety and even had suicidal thoughts. She was admitted several times in inpatient psychiatric unit where she was able to stabilize a bit and then joined Dr. Cirincione and I for outpatient treatment. She made incredible gains and most of Abigail’s progress is attributable to her indomitable spirit and her incredible dedication towards care. She would come in with energy and engagement really make the most of each treatment. This was incredibly inspiring to me because here is somebody whose heart functioning was worsening again, to the point that she required a heart transplant when she was about 18 years old.

Unfortunately for Abigail her progress after the transplant was not as smoothly as we had hoped, but those bumps in the road provided more motivation for Abigail and her mother. With all this going on in her life, she is missing out on a lot of the normal teen activities, but since her mood and psychiatric conditions has stabilized, she has made great progress and she is now back doing the things that she loves. She’s going on trips with her twin sister, sleep over with friends and is even attending college and finishing up her driver’s permit.

Abigail’s goals to become a nurse and help children with other physical and mental struggles and I think she’ll be great at it.